Into the Wild Study Guide

Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild is a non-fictional account of the wilderness survival and eventual death of Christopher McCandless, a teenager who left home to experience nature's grandeur. The survival of McCandless's journals and the accounts of those he met with on his travels paint a vivid picture of a determined young man wrestling with personal demons through travel. McCandless dies alone in the Alaskan wilderness at the conclusion of the novel.

Krakauer begins the book by describing the story behind Christopher McCandless. In April, 1992, the young McCandless hitchhiked his way into Alaska and took up residence in the wild nearby Mt. McKinley. Later, in August of that year, a group of hunters found his body, prompting Outside magazine to request Jon Krakauer to write a story about McCandless’s life and times. He describes McCandless’s college education at Emory University and the events that followed directly after he graduated. He gave away all of his money to charity, left his things, and took to being a drifter and explorer.

The article arrived in Outside magazine in January, 1993, but Krakauer’s interest in the story did not die with the story’s publication. Rather, he was personally attracted to the aspects of McCandless’s life, the outdoors attraction and rocky relationship with his father. He compares himself to McCandless to give a little perspective, and describes the reactionmany people had to McCandless’s actions, so many labeling him young and foolish. Krakauer does not agree though and states that McCandless would still be alive if he had only kept from making one or two crucial mistakes. He ends his note by announcing he hopes to allow the reader to form their own opinion of McCandless and his actions.

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